Although the Summit of the Americas is set to be hosted by the United States, it’s unlikely that many of its neighboring countries will attend.
Last week, reports surfaced that the US was considering lifting some sanctions on Venezuela. This included those targeting at least one person and the return of US- and European-based oil companies operating in Venezuela. The news broke later. confirmed by Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodríguez.
The US is reportedly easing sanctions as a sign of goodwill after high-level negotiations took place in March, hoping to foster dialogue between the ruling government of President Nicolás Maduro and the US-backed opposition. Vice President Rodríguez’s statements in reaction to this news suggested that the Venezuelan government intends to do precisely that, as well as continue dialogue on an international level.
This is undoubtedly a good step for Venezuela, even though it still has much to do with the US (and its allies) seeking to lower crushing inflation. Venezuela’s illegal and criminal blockade has inhumanely and needlessly strangled its economy. For years, economic issues stemming from unilateral sanctions imposed by Washington have plagued the country and hurt ordinary people there – all in an effort to topple the democratically elected Venezuelan government.
Venezuela was able to save the situation. It posted positive economic growth last year and brought down inflation after many years of runaway inflation and economic recession. This feat, which Caracas accomplished without normal trade relations with Washington, is not small. It is a sign that US sanctions are losing power and Washington is losing its influence.
This is precisely why the US must continue negotiations with Venezuela, eventually lifting all the sanctions and meaningfully engaging with all of its neighbors — including Cuba and Nicaragua — despite political disagreements. It is important that the US sees itself in the Americas not as a coercive partner but as an equal partner. Doing so would only lead to US isolation within its own region.
Regional leaders are paying attention to the changes in global geopolitical terrain. For example, speaking in Cuba on May 9, Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador called on the US to end its ongoing sanctions on the Caribbean country dating back to 1959. He, as he has previously, called for a united American community similar to the European Union and also recently threatened, along with about a dozen other leaders, to boycott next month’s US-hosted Summit of the Americas because of its exclusion of Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba.
AMLO is the Mexican president. He also pointed out the opportunity that China’s rise presents for the region. Leaders from these countries want concrete development plans and investment proposals – meanwhile, the US seems to only be concerned with points of domestic political interest like illegal immigration and drug trafficking, which are actually linked to chaotic US foreign policy in the Americas. China, on the other hand offers no strings attached development projects and investment that is extremely appealing to these countries.
Washington’s domestic issues are not important to leaders in Latin America or the Caribbean. The most fundamental function of any public servant is providing security and prosperity for their region. Dividing the region on political lines and excluding some countries from various forums designed to, supposedly, bring the Americas together does not fulfill these basic goals. It actually does the opposite – and more leaders recognize this.
This is, for example, why there are growing calls to abolish the US-dominated Organization of American States (OAS), which currently excludes Cuba and is disputing Venezuela’s membership, and replace it with a more inclusive organization. Mexico and other countries are calling for the creation of a regional organisation that is focused primarily on regional cooperation. This would allow them to support regional development without limiting their ideology. It’s hard to see, at this juncture, where the United States would fit into this picture.
For the US to not box itself in a corner in its neighborhood, – which Washington officials have referred to as ‘our hemisphere’ for almost two centuries – it must seek rapprochement with those countries, namely Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba, with which it has stark political differences. It needs to engage in constructive, serious dialog that transcends narrow self-interest. This could be done by listening to the appeals of regional leaders and inviting Venezuelan, Nicaraguan and Cuba to the Summit of the Americas in October. Otherwise, it’s just strengthening the opposing notion of ‘nuestra America’, or ‘our America’, first coined by Cuban writer Jose Marti in a famous late-19th-century book of the same name. It was used by Marti to refer to Spanish resistance. However, the Latin American socialists have repurposed the expression to criticize Washington.
The US has put itself at an impasse where it can either continue to antagonize Latin America and the Caribbean, seeing it, as it has since the Monroe Doctrine, as its playground – or risk being blacklisted from the American community altogether.
These opinions, statements and thoughts are the sole opinion of the author. They do not necessarily reflect those made by RT.